“These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.“
Proverbs 1:4 (NLT)
As all the kids in our area head back to school this week, we think of them going for the purpose of attaining knowledge over the course of the next school year. As adults, we can consider life as our school, where we have the opportunity to gain wisdom every day and use the Bible as our textbook.
According to Proverbs 1:4, Solomon’s wise sayings provide knowledge and discernment to both the “simple” and the “young.” This implies that these wise proverbs are passed down from wiser people to those seeking knowledge and from those who are older to those who are younger. The word “simple” used in this verse comes from the Hebrew word pthiy (Strong’s H6612), which means simple or open-minded, which means that those who are willing to hear and accept Proverbs are candidates for gaining wisdom. On the flipside, however, this idea of a simple person could mean somebody who was so open-minded that he did not have proper discernment and was willing to blindly accept anything that came his way.
Over the past two weeks, we have looked at the purposes for studying Proverbs and how we apply its wisdom to our lives. Proverbs teaches us the skill of wisdom and the value of discipline, it gives us access to God’s perfect understanding, and it teaches us what is right, just and fair. Proverbs 1:4 finishes the “why” of Proverbs by adding one more purpose: discernment.
The Hebrew translation for discernment is mezimmah (Strong’s H4209), meaning purpose, discretion, and device. We usually think of discernment as having perception or the ability to judge well. But, in spiritual terms, discernment is the ability to decide between truth and error or between what is morally right or wrong. Proverbs 1:3 reminds us that these wise sayings show us those things which are right, just and fair. Proverbs is a good guidebook for teaching us discernment to help us do these things in our daily living.
So, what aspects of living are addressed in Proverbs? Faithfulness in marriage, speech, anger, honesty, humility, time management, discipline, justice, and generosity are some of the book’s most prevalent themes. Solomon spoke Proverbs in a creative, poetic, colorful, and descriptive way, making them much more fun to read than any self-help manual. This makes it easier to remember different proverbs because they provide word pictures.
One of my favorite verses in Proverbs is 25:11: “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” When I think about my own speech, I can test it by considering whether my words have made someone’s day or ruined it. Uplifting words are a beautiful gift, and I want to strive to give this type of gift on a daily basis.
I enjoy hearing which verses in Proverbs mean the most to each of you. Do you have a favorite proverb? Share it in the comments section. And, if you have worked through the Solomon Says study, leave a message telling what it meant to you.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25